A new bar and eatery at Auckland’s Viaduct, Saint Alice was briefed as a more feminine counterpart to its adjacent brew bar sibling, Dr Rudi’s.
Key requirements were to create a design scheme that signalled the stronger emphasis on food; to ensure the second floor venue had a strong visual presence, even when viewed from ground level and to retain as much of the natural building patina as possible.
Responding to the location and the all-important visual connection to the Viaduct, the design team pulled the weather-line back inside the building to create the sense of a balcony or rooftop bar. With its prime position in the heart of a busy hospitality precinct, the space calls down to the busy waterfront and entices people-watchers to ride the escalator up to Saint Alice, where they can unwind and enjoy an uninterrupted view over the water and the crowds below.
One of the first elements visitors see upon entering Saint Alice is the wet fish bar, complete with ice-filled oyster trays. This, along with areas of low dining-style tables, helps signal the venue’s focus on food as well as beverages.
The material selection and detailing throughout Saint Alice are carefully considered in their intent. The guiding concept came from imagining a personification of ‘Saint’ Alice. Who was she, and what would her home be like? She was pictured as creative, filled with innovative ideas and with a love of curated vintage elements set among a crisp modern interior. The design scheme was continually sense-checked against this filter.
The space has a fresh and delicate palette of colours and materials.
During the demolition stages existing paint colours and layers of flaking paint were exposed. Some of these were above the previous ceiling and flakes were knocked off with a broom. The flakes were collected and passed onto Resene to have paint matched. The design team wanted to honour the previous lives of the building and re-using colours from its past seemed fitting. All but one of the paint scratchings was a Resene colour. The unknown colour a pale pink was used to create a custom Resene colour named called ‘Oh Alice’ which was painted in Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel to create a glossy ceiling.
There is a strong domestic aesthetic throughout. Artisan tiles contrast with the rough fabric of the building, adding finesse to the detailing. Chequered flooring leading through the space and past the kitchen adds a residential feeling. Solid oak and rosewood timbers are used, along with characterful reclaimed timber flooring, salvaged from a local school.
Lush green plants are a considered design element at Saint Alice, softening the space and enhancing the residential aesthetic. A planting brief was created early, so that the mature and established plants could take their place immediately upon opening.
The space’s styling enhances the freshness and femininity behind the central concept. A repurposed grand piano adjacent to the bar doubles as a lush display of freshly cut flowers. Vintage bird cages sit throughout the space, evoking a Bohemian home interior. Soft lighting is used as an accent throughout, creating washes of light against the building’s surfaces. Romanticist wall paintings created by a local artist add a mysterious and feminine touch to Saint Alice’s interior.
Many previously painted areas that had patina and a depth of character were retained, with those colours matched and used to paint over adjacent repairs and unpainted new construction. Interior walls and columns were finished in Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss in Resene Quarter Villa White, with the darker Resene Double Villa White on the exterior. Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel in Resene Grey Olive adds contrast to the male bathroom.
With the paint colour selections being informed by what was uncovered, and the client embracing having a glossy pink ceiling highlighted with feature lighting, the paint applications felt honest with the fit-out intent and have created an interesting layered space.
Set above the hustle of the Viaduct, Saint Alice’s domestic touches create the sense that you’ve been invited up the escalator to be entertained in an eccentric and eclectic apartment.
Client: Andrew Roburgh
Interior designer: Ctrl Space
Other key contributor: Cutting Innovations
Photographer: Sarah Grace
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